That was the challenge successfully taken up, in 2021, by 3D modeller Michelangelo Agostinetto, with the support of Fabula 3D and LATI3Dlab. The client? The well-known motorcycle customiser Nicola Martini, aka Mr Martini.
But let's go back and see what happened. When 3D printing the first prototypes, Michelangelo ran into some problems related to the strength of the materials and the processability of the parts. It is, in fact, very difficult to find strong materials that are also flexible and heat-mouldable enough to be slightly modifiable in shape.
This is the point at which Marco Ardesi of Fabula 3D stepped in, offering to look after the printing of the pieces, while LATI3Dlab agreed to provide filaments in reels for use in mechanical strength and deformability tests, to be performed using a variety of post-processing techniques.
Specimens were printed in duplicate, thereby making it possible to perform tests and comparison trials. The parameters evaluated were: quality of the aesthetic finishing, shape memory after heating with hot air, and heating and bending strength.
The filaments supplied by LATI3Dlab, all carbon fibre-reinforced, were LATAMID 12 AM H2 K/15, based on PA12, and LATER G HT AM K/10, which is made from PETG with enhanced thermal behaviour. Both products were processed in a closed-chamber printer equipped with a special high-temperature nozzle.
Materials and assembly expert Claudio Concina, a member of Mr Martini’s team, then worked on the parts using the "tools of the trade" (hot air, hammer, pliers and so on) in order to shape them. The results were excellent.
Materials such as LATAMID 12 AM H2 K/15 have proven to be suitable for use in this field, allowing a heat-moulded geometry to be deformed in order to reduce or completely eliminate shape memory, yet without any loss of strength or compactness. In this case, a final post-annealing process, serving to heat crystallise the parts, improved the results still further.
In the world of vehicle customisation, the strength and the processability of materials are fundamental requirements.
Mr Martini is a visionary customiser, in terms of both design and technical solutions: by using these materials for 3D printing, he has further expanded his own creative horizons.
Taking customised tools and technologies to the designers’ own workplace is crucial in order to create objects more sustainably, in terms of time frames and costs, than is possible using traditional methods. Today, chassis scanning and the subsequent part printing tests are part of Mr Martini's normal workflow.
Two motorcycles with sides and other internal components made from LATER G HT AM K/10 have already been produced, and another is already in the pipeline...
It is difficult to predict just what Mr Martini will come up with in the future, as he always proposes pioneering and innovative concepts in his projects.
We are sure that, thanks to the technical materials from LATI3Dlab, he will be able to envisage new applications, and realise his ideas in 3D.